Sunday, May 02, 2010

Senate Bill 1070


Hey, that's not funny!

And then we have Arizona's Senate Bill 1070 (SB 1070), signed by Governor Jan Brewer on April 23, 2010 and which is causing all sorts of ruckus, within the state and without. Those who are opposed to the bill say it calls for racial profiling, targeting Hispanics in the great state of Arizona. Those who favour the bill say it does not call for racial profiling and in fact forbids it, and it is necessary to protect the people and the economy of the great state of Arizona. Of course one could be all wacky and actually read the Bill, which courtesy of the magic of the Internet you can do by clicking on the title of this particular blog entry (if I understand this techie stuff right, and you can always Google it just in case I don't). Warning, it is kind of a dull read, dry in some spots and even drier in others.
First off everybody agrees that Arizona has a real and continuing problem with illegal aliens crossing the border. Also, I don't think anybody believes that the only people entering the US this way are only in search of a better life. There are criminals crossing, bringing drugs to the US markets or otherwise getting up to whatever it is that that bunch gets up to. The situation has been getting worse and has been ignored for decades by the federal government. So I think it can be agreed that Arizona is in a tricky position. But is SB 1070 the answer?

Really the waters have been muddied by both sides in this argument with those against the bill calling it the 'show me your papers' bill, invoking images of Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia and all sorts of totalitarian states. They claim this will lead to racial profiling (actually I think this is a valid point, which I will get to later) and the treating of US citizens with Hispanic ancestry as second class citizens.

Those who are for the bill say all it does is reinforce federal law as regards illegal aliens. An article by Arizona State Senator Sylvia Allen printed on SFGate.com (http://articles.sfgate.com/2010-04-30/opinion/20877565_1_illegal-immigrants-border-patrol-mexico-us-border) talks about murders and kidnappings along the border and how people who live within 60-miles of the border live in terror of the human and the drug smugglers. She mentions the financial cost to Arizona of illegal immigrants and bemoans the fact that the border guards are not allowed to use force to stop people who enter the state illegally (this is honestly a bit rough though isn't it? Who wants to be the guard who accidentally shoots a little kid who is with his or her parents crossing into the US?) Unfortunately she allows a fairly reasonable argument to be sidetracked by one rancher who she says has found, "alarmingly, several copies of the Quran." Yeah, right, the Quran. That's not crazy at all. I think the situation is bad enough without making up crap like that.

Another person writing in favour of the bill is Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (http://articles.latimes.com/2010/apr/30/opinion/la-oe-stein-20100430). He too brings up the financial burden on "Arizona, writing, "...state taxpayers spend more than $2-billion a year on education and health-care for illegal immigrants and their children." Now that's some serious coin that his groups study shows is being spent, but I wonder if since they know where the money is being spent why not just round them all up and buy bus tickets home for them? Seems that $2-billion would buy a lot of bus tickets. Dan also addresses the racial profiling thing, pointing out that, "under the law, Arizona police are prohibited from racial profiling or stopping anybody merely because of appearance or ethnicity." All right, lets get into the racial profiling thing.
I have read through the bill a couple of times and I have not seen anything identifying the illegal aliens as having come from Mexico. Everybody talks about the illegals crossing from Mexico, but the bill is a little more general than that. Technically this bill refers to illegals from Ireland, Tibet, New Zealand, South Africa, Antarctica, and pretty much everywhere, which is good. Mexico is not being singled out. I suspect that this is what they mean when the pro people say there is no racial profiling in the bill. Now let's look at the real world. Let's say there is an illegal from Germany, an illegal from Ireland, an illegal from Australia, a US citizen of Hispanic background, and me, all standing by where a window has been broken in a business in Arizona. Now, since the broken window creates a "reasonable suspicion" that a law has been broken, when the Arizona police show up they are now in "lawful contact" with the five of us. Of the five of us, which is going to be asked to prove their US citizenship? Fine, SB 1070 does not mention racial profiling, but honestly, where are the illegal immigrants coming from that they are worried about in Arizona? Obviously racial profiling will be a result of this bill.

So how does this bill improve the situation in the great state of Arizona? Everything the advocates say the bill is for is already illegal. Drug smuggling and/or people smuggling - both illegal. Hiring an illegal alien - illegal. Border security is not toughened up any and now police officers will have to, by law, check everyone they pull over to see if they are US citizen or a legal resident of the United States (remember, no racial profiling). Of course if they were to only check people of Hispanic background, well, can you spell "lawsuit"?
Something already being made worse by the bill is the Arizona economy, which had just begun to bounce back after the recent financial "kick in the sack". The "hospitality" industry is being smacked pretty good, with tourists avoiding the place and conventions cancelling. The American Immigration Lawyers Association will be relocating it's fall conference from a resort in Scottsdale to another state. They are hoping to renegotiate the cancellation fee, which could run as high as $92,000 (which is a funny idea. Why would any organization ever go back to a resort that had charged them $92,000 for nothing? Is this resort, the Camelback Inn, such horrible place that there is no way they could ever fill those rooms even with five months notice? Still, the A.I.L.A. signed the contract, and they are lawyers, so there it is.) Vice-president of communications for the Scottsdale Convention and Visitors Bureau, Laura McMurchie has expressed concern about the negative impact of SB 1070 on tourism and she also points out that the bill was not designed to have a negative impact on tourism (although for the first time Mexico has issued a travel advisory to it's citizens to be careful in Arizona). Personally I am just sort of revolted by the idea of travelling to a place where people are treated differently just because of the colour of their skin.
The Sheraton Tucson is also taking a hit with the loss of at least two conventions. "I know people are very passionate about this, but a boycott is just going to hurt everybody in this state. People still need to work here," says Sheraton Tucson general manager, Damen Kompanowski. I am wondering who Damen is talking to here, people who live in Arizona or to people from outside Arizona who no longer want to visit because of the bill. Phoenix based attorney, Lisa Devlin, a hospitality law expert, says, "if groups decide to cancel, it will have a sweeping impact on the state and penalize people who don't deserve to be penalized, including hotel service workers, taxi drivers, the trickle down effect..." Polls have said that as many as 70% of Arizonians approving of this bill, and was Ms Devlin being ironic when she said, "penalize people who don't deserve to be penalized"?
So, does Arizona have a very serious problem with illegal aliens? Absolutely they do. Is SB 1070 the way to go? I don't believe so. The net is spread too wide and unintentional racism is still racism.
Anyway... Humouroceros

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